House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) countered President Obama’s assertion that he’s “not familiar” with Benghazi whistleblowers being blocked from testifying by noting four letters sent to the administration since mid-April asking that information be made available to the whistleblowers’ laywers.
“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying,” Obama told a reporter at today’s press conference. “So what I’ll do is I will find out what exactly you are referring to.”
“A lawyer for Benghazi whistleblowers has publicly stated that the State Department is blocking her client’s ability to talk freely with counsel,” Issa said in a statement afterward. “Over the past two weeks, I have sent four letters requesting that this administration make information available about how lawyers – who already have security clearances and are representing Benghazi whistleblowers – can be cleared to fully hear their clients’ stories. I have yet to receive any response from the Obama administration.”
“Even if the president really doesn’t know anything about someone wanting to come forward, his position should be that whistleblowers deserve protection and that anyone who has different information about Benghazi is free to come forward to Congress,” the chairman added. “The president’s unwillingness to commit himself to protecting whistleblowers only aids those in his administration who are intimidating them.”
Issa sent letters on April 16 to the Defense Department, State Department and CIA, and another letter to the State Department on April 26.
After Obama’s press conference, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) renewed their call for Senate leadership to appoint a joint select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack and the administration’s role.
“Revelations about witnesses being afraid to testify and military assets that could have been deployed in a timely fashion justify appointing a joint select committee,” the senators said in a joint statement.
“In light of these new revelations it is imperative that we learn everything we can from what happened before, during and after the attacks. We cannot allow those who serve our nation to feel abandoned when under attack, or by Congress afterwards… As with any investigation, the longer we delay, the harder it is to find the truth. We have already waited too long.”